Sniper Tactics – Bounding

Airsoft sniping is all about good movement and good decisions. I’ll be expanding on this a lot in the coming weeks. One of the most fundamental techniques is bounding, which isn’t just limited to AEG users in a concrete playground. I’ll be breaking this idea down both with a sniper pair, and as a solo player.

Bounding in pairs

Welcome to the grey and boring MS Paint 3D (yes I upgraded) airsoft battlefield. At the bottom here are two snipers, which we’ll call Stip and Bubba, because why not. In this example, let’s imagine there’s an objective 1000 metres/yards/fridge freezers away to the top right of the map which is a flag the two teams are going to fight to control. King of the hill. Obviously, as snipers we’re not going to take that hill, we’re just going to try and deny the enemy team the area and slow them down enough for our teammates to do the dirty work. I don’t give a shit about flags. We’re not going to simply rush towards the position Leroy Jenkins style, because otherwise we’ll swiftly be headed back to respawn several times. We’re going to bound onto the position.

First move then, we’re going to send Bubba forward about 30m/yds/ffs. As he moves forward, I’m going to stay dug into my position, head up, scanning the area for any enemy movement. In a defensive position with a ghillie on, I should be pretty well hidden. Any potential enemy players are going to be drawn by Bubba moving forward which is going to hide me even more, because they’re not looking in my direction; they’re distracted. Bubba is going to look for a good firing position, low down and away from any man made objects that would make for obvious firing positions (see working with your environment). Then he’s going to get into a good position and start checking the area for any potential threats. At this point, my eyes are now on Bubba who is further forward and able to assess the area ahead better than I can where I am. After a few minutes, I’m watching for Bubba to give me a hand signal to say that it’s all clear and to move up. If he’s not sure, then we wait a bit longer. If there’s a threat, we’re both now in firing positions to engage the enemy, and that’s the best position we could be in if there was a threat.

Bubba is now hidden in a firing position, eyes still scanning for threats. I’m going to set off on a 50-60m bound to get in front, looking again for a good firing position to stop in. If that good position is only 10m ahead of Bubba, then I’ll come up short on my bound, because I don’t want to push a bad or open position just to gain a few metres extra. I’ll pass behind Bubba so I’m not wandering in front of his barrel while I’m bounding, in case he needs to take a shot. Working in pairs like this means that I’m backed up by another sniper who is helping cover me as I move, and is watching for enemy movement. And I’m covering him by distracting enemy fire with my movement. When choosing a route through a site like this, never go direct or using the easiest routes such as paths. Ideally, we’re looking to either flank here, or take a longer/more inaccessible route around to avoid detection. One of the things you notice on YouTube is that a lot of snipers film their antics now and show everyone the routes they use, making it easier to predict where players are. I also notice at my local that some of the players who are there every week can tell me “I know exactly where he’s going to be” in relation to some players. Hidden routes around sites will remove that predictability, and if you must film things, be careful not to show your hand, as it were.

If I do catch the eye of some enemy players, and get cut down in a hail of spray and pray, then as far as the enemy players are concerned they’ve taken out the sniper that they’ve just seen. The reason we’re not moving up together, and maintaining a distance where possible, is that if one is taken out there’s still another sniper to continue to the objective. If you’re too close, the enemy might see your partner as you get hit out as their eyes are focused on that area; some may be running magnified optics too.

Running good comms makes a difference if you must pass information to your partner while 30m away, because hand signals can only do so much talking. Without a radio, it might require a bound to your partners position instead of ahead just to quickly pass information, although only a good idea if the area is not hostile. Remember as well that ideally you want to be avoiding your own team too, to avoid any trigger-happy friendly fire incidents, and so that they don’t flag you by trying to come across and talk about the disappointing state of the on-site lunch facilities.

Next bound, I’m in a firing position and using my hand, motion Bubba to begin his next movement. I’m covering him again, he’s distracting the enemy (if there are any) and taking the risks, so that I might live. Rather than going higher up the hill, he can pass lower underneath my barrel to avoid skylining himself on top of the ridge behind. Although we’re bounding, it’s still important to remember your basic movement principles – try and use cover to mask your advance, tread lightly and watch your footing, and avoid trying to highlight yourself. It’s not a case of just using the bounding sniper as bait because we still want to try and keep both alive. It just helps to reduce that risk further.

Dead easy.

Why bound though? I remember watching a couple of snipers at a game last spring that were walking and chatting together, which meant neither were switched on fully to what was around them as they attempted to simply walk all the way to target and then set up and start engaging. Two together, especially at walking height, is a very easy target. I think the biggest benefit of bounding though is the stop and assess discipline.

Bounding solo

Occasionally, you find yourself out of friends. Or your partner took a bb for you and you’re on your own. Or just that nobody likes you. But fuck everyone else. Solo bounding though works exactly the same and is built on the same principles of breaking up your journey into sections with pauses to stop and assess.

  • Move up
  • Get into a firing position
  • Scan the area for enemy
  • Assess the area
  • Make your next move

It keeps you focused, constantly switched on, and gives you a moment to stop and plan your next move, whereas the AEG lot will simply charge forward and hope to throw down more plastic than the opponent to win. If you’re on comms with your team, use the time to listen out for any intel while you’re hidden.

For some snipers, they’ll casually stroll through areas and hope to set up just one firing position about 80m from the final objective where they can lie down and camp a spot for the duration of the game. The strolling around chatting is where we lose focus and concentration, and no area can be considered threat free until you’ve actually assessed it to be so. The second you’re in a game area, it’s game on regardless.

Playing solo I do tend to find that I actually spend longer stopping to assess, perhaps because I’m less certain without a second pair of eyes, or perhaps it feels longer because you’re on your own. But that’s not a bad thing. The one thing a lot of people miss about ghillies is that any camouflage system will only work when you’ve stopped moving. If I spend 2 mins bounding forward and then 8 mins in a firing position before moving (yes I’ve done that for easy maths) then I’m hidden for 80% of the time, and vulnerable for 20%. If I spend 2 mins bounding then 2 mins in one spot, I’m only camouflaged 50% of the time. The movement in terms of walking we want to break down with regular stops so that we carefully move forward one bound at a time without giving the enemy too much time to spot us, and smaller bounds from cover to cover mean that if we are spotted, we’re not far away from a semi-safe position (the next stop).

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